October 3, 2021
Each year, we host over 2500 student-athletes and their families and speak with thousands more via email and phone. From September through November, the most frequently asked question we get as we speak with student-athletes and families has to do with the timing of our Headfirst Southeast camp in November: what are the types of recruiting opportunities available at the schools in attendance?
This is a great question – and one that has some nuance and detail specific to a student-athlete’s goals and grad year, as well as where they are in the recruiting process with various schools.
FOR CURRENT SENIORS IN THE CLASS OF 2022
For current seniors, the root of the question is whether these schools are still recruiting the class of 2022 in November. The short answer is “yes” – but let’s dig in deeper.
We think about the recruiting-admissions process in three distinct phases:
Our showcases in early August largely closed the book on Phase #1 – this is the time of the recruiting season when college coaches try to finalize the bulk of their active recruiting list and incoming class. With this list of recruits, most coaches are in the process now of going to their admissions departments for “early reads” of the transcripts and test scores to get an idea of how their recruiting class lines up with the admissions standards, goals and long–term vision of the school as a whole.
Inevitably, between now and the Early Admissions deadlines (which falls either on November 1st or November 15th), some of these top recruits do not make it all the way through to admission. Whether because of their application read from the admissions department, or because a student-athlete’s top school choice changes, one or more of these recruits dropping out of the process at a given school can create an opportunity through for someone else that was on the recruiting list – or an athlete they find at the right time this fall.
The changes of the Early Admission window create opportunities for student-athletes who haven’t committed to a school yet – many programs are now once again actively recruiting the senior class to fill out the slots vacated by recent turnover. Because the Southeast Honor Roll Camp is set right in the midst of this period of changes, this is a prime opportunity for uncommitted student-athletes to impact their recruiting process at the schools high on their list. With a month or more remaining until regular admission deadlines, there is now time for seniors to fill these vacated slots, this time through the Regular Admission time window. The weeks between our November showcase and the New Year are a time when the recruiting process can move quickly to get student-athletes recruited and into the admissions funnel at top academic schools.
The timing of the first two admissions phases is exactly why we schedule our showcase when we do – and also part of why we see student-athletes get recruited out of our fall camps in November each year to some of the top schools in the country.
The third and final foothold for admission is as the “recruited walk–on”. No matter the time of year, coaches at these high-academic schools are looking for student-athletes who have the grades and test scores to gain admission without coach support to compete for a roster spot and potentially impact their softball program. So, for student-athletes with their sights set high, Clermont, FL on November 6-7 is the perfect time to play one last time in front of these coaches before normal application deadlines in January to set up their opportunity at their dream school.
As we’ve said before, finding the right school is a question of the holistic fit of the school. And, because of the nature of the recruited walk–on, it’s more of a gamble as to whether you’ll make the team or play a significant role on the team – so you have to ask yourself: is the softball program an athletic fit?
If you really like a school and program, you cannot be afraid to get in front of that coach and show what you can do. Once you’re on campus and have your opportunity, you have a chance to compete for playing time and to control your own destiny.
CLASS OF 2023 AND YOUNGER
When we speak with underclassmen, the questions that come up most frequently are “Is it too early to start getting recruited?” or “are college coaches recruiting my class yet?”
Because of the timing of the Southeast showcase where it is in the admissions process – right as coaches are putting the finishing touches on their incoming recruiting class – at this time of year coaches are beginning to build out their recruiting lists for future years, which means unique opportunity for underclassmen to get a jumpstart on their recruiting process.
Given the high academics and the nature of recruiting at the caliber of schools at our events, recruiting tends to gain steam with student-athletes once they have more comprehensive academic information. These coaches need to make sure that your most polished and complete transcript, your test scores and your holistic application are in order before they can commit to recruiting you or supporting you through admissions. With SAT and ACTs ramping up again in the fall, and with first semester grades coming in right around the corner, early November is the perfect time for these colleges to start looking to the underclassmen. Getting on the recruiting radar at your target programs now helps set you up for success through the spring.
The recruiting process is exactly that – a process. Coaches are aiming to recruit the best players that they can, but they’re also looking for more than that. Coaches are looking for players that will impact and represent their program on and off the field – each student-athlete on the team is a representation of the school and the coach, so they need to be sure that they are also recruiting the character of the student-athlete, as well as the skills, the test scores, and the grades. To be able to do this, coaches need to build a relationship with the student-athletes they’re recruiting.
Think of camp not as a truncated time frame during which you need to meet and introduce yourself to a school, impress them with your play and then commit to their program. Camp is a great touchpoint along the recruiting journey, and part of an ongoing dialogue – one which affords an unparalleled opportunity for direct coach engagement that’s impossible to find elsewhere. And, by taking control of your process early and initiating relationships with college coaches, you’re putting yourself in the driver’s seat later on throughout your recruiting and admissions process.